Rumoer 75 Urban Grow

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periodical for the Building Technologist

75. Urban Grow

RUMOER 75 - URBAN GROW 4th Quarter 2020 26th year of publication Praktijkvereniging BouT Room 02.West.090 Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft Julianalaan 134 2628 BL Delft The Netherlands tel: +31 (0)15 278 1292 fax: +31 (0)15 278 4178 instagram: @bout_tud Printing ISSN number 1567-7699 Editorial Committee Aditya Soman (Editor-in-Chief) Daphne de Bruin Diederik Jilderda Eren Gozde Anil Fawzi Bata Sarah Hoogenboom Sophie van Hattum Tim Schumann Cover Page Original illustration by Mariana Georgoulopoulou Msc.1 student of Building Technology RUMOER is the official periodical of Praktijkvereniging BouT, student and practice association for Building Technology (AE+T), at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft (Delft University of Technology). This magazine is spread among members and relations.

Circulation: The RUMOER appears 3 times a year, with more than 150 printed copies and digital copies made available to members through online distribution. Membership Amounts per academic year (subject to change): € 10,- Students € 30,- PhD Students and alumni € 30,- Academic Staff Single copies: Available at Bouw Shop (BK) for : € 5,- Students €10,- Academic Staff , PhD Students and alumni Sponsors Praktijkvereniging BouT is looking for sponsors. Sponsors make activities possible such as study trips, symposia, case studies, advertisements on Rumoer, lectures and much more. For more info contact BouT: If you are interested in BouT’s sponsor packages, send an e-mail to: Disclaimer The editors do not take any responsibility for the photos and texts that are displayed in the magazine. Images may not be used in other media without permission of the original owner. The editors reserve the right to shorten or refuse publication without prior notification.

Interested to join? The Rumoer Committee is open to all students. Are you a creative student that wants to learn first about the latest achievements of TU Delft and Building Technology industry? Come join us at our weekly meeting or email us @

75 | Urban Grow

CONTENT Interviews 04

Floating Farm : Peter van Winderden - Diederik Jilderda & Tim Schumann, BouT.


Hexagro : Felipe Hernandez -Interview by Agritecture




Facade Farm

- Dr Andy Jenkins, TU Delft, Climate Design and Sustainability.


Performance assesment of a DIY green facade -Shirish Ramachandran.

26 Urban FEW nexus -Ir. Nick ten Caat, with Martin Tenpierik, Nico Tillie, Andy van den Dobbelsteen, TU Delft 32 Potential of urban farming in Future Climate-proof Neighbourhoods -Aarabhi Balasubramanian. 48 PET Grown -Nikoleta Sidiropoulou.

Articles 42

Grow X -Roos Steenvoorden.




Debut Event 2020 -Shefalika Sukhen Padmanabha.


EDITORIAL Dear Reader, It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I present our 75th edition of Rumoer.The Rumoer Committee welcomed six new members with this edition: Diederik Jilderda, Daphne de Bruin, Eren Gozde Anil, Fawzi Bata, Sarah Hoogenboom and Tim Schumann along with Sophie van Hattum as our continuing member. It is exciting to see the Rumoer committee grow and looking at the enthusiasm and hard work put by all the members for this issue despite the difficulties faced due to the raging pandemic gives me hope that Rumoer can

Rumoer committee 2020-2021

by means of urban farming. Urban farming presents the

grow even further and reach new heights.

opportunity not only to educate, grow, and innovate

The premise of this issue starts with looking at the problem

transforms the urban landscape and architecture .

of the disconnect of the urban population from their food sources.The cities are expanding exponentially with a rapid growth of population, as a result the traditional relationship between humans and their source of food is also changing. Cities can no longer come close to being able to produce enough food for its population. Globalization and technology have enabled modern cities to provide food for its population but it leaves a significant impact on the environment. How can we as the creators and contributors of the built environment provide a regional, efficient, and ecological solution for this? The key lies in connecting the population with their food sources within the same urban footprint

how to make and consume food responsibly, but also

In our issue 75: Urban Grow we look at how Architecture and the Built Environment contribute to improving the relationship between the urban population and their food source by looking at innovative and exemplary examples of integrating urban food production with architecture. The issue includes articles covering a wide range of urban farming solutions from urban livestock farming, aquaponics, building integrated facade and roof farming to indoor modular farming. I hope you enjoy reading it! Aditya Soman Editor-in-chief | Rumoer 2020-2021


75 | Urban Grow 6

Figure 1. Hope on Water Foldable Structure


The Floating Farm - An Interview by Diederik Jilderda and Tim Schumann

With creating the worlds first farm on the water, Peter and Minke van Wingerden attracted international attention. The Floating Farm opened 2019 in Rotterdam and houses 40 cows, with more animals to come. In an exclusive interview with RuMoer, Peter van Wingerden talks about his story from vision to realisation, challenges in urban farming and the corona crisis. RuMoer: Mr. van Wingerden, what is the concept of the

RuMoer: When and how did you come up with this vision?

floating farm? Peter van Wingerden: Before we started this farm, we Peter van Wingerden: Our main goal is to produce

were designing buildings on the water, general buildings.

healthy food close to consumers. Worldwide, customers

We have been looking into a cruise terminal, we have

live within cities, so if you want to find space inside cities

been looking into a hotel, we have been working for the

to grow food on a large scale, you can look into rooftops,

Olympic games to investigate floating buildings for the

you can look at caves, but we chose the water. Water is

Olympic games. Then, we were working in New York

extremely scalable, and it is universal. What we make

City on a floating housing project shortly after hurricane

here in Rotterdam, we can do in any city in the world. The

Sandy totally wrecked the city with huge flooding. One

only differences might be a little bit more waves or wind,

of the things that struck me most during this flooding is

but water is a pretty universal material.

that the shops were empty because the cities have fresh

We designed a very modular building that can be

food only for a maximum of three days, so they depend

expanded very easily in width or in length or in height,

completely on transportation.

and that can be done on any water surface in the world.

And if there is no transportation possible, there is no fresh

This is one of the big differences to rooftop constructions

food, simple as that. We said, well if we can make fresh

for instance, because every rooftop is different, permits,

food inside cities in a climate-adaptive way, that would

design, construction and calculations are always

be the solution probably. We had a lot of knowledge

different, that is not the case on the waterside.

on floating buildings, so one of the guys said, why not

So that is one thing, we are also looking into climate

transform one into a farm. We started looking into it, and

change. We know that sea levels are rising, that affects

we started with the most difficult part, how to handle big

regular soil-based agriculture, but for us, it has no

animals inside big cities.

effect. There is a tide over here of two meters, so we go

So that's what we did, we just started to design, think

with the tide.

and rethink: how can we handle big animals, can we


75 | Urban Grow

create some attractiveness to this business, can we make it sexier, can we make it a story, can we design a different farm, can we make it iconic, and can we make it high-tech? With these criteria, we started to design and engineer and there we started. We went to our own village, which happens to be one of the big ports in the world and asked if can we can have a little place in this port to experiment and test. Obviously, everybody from the port authority thought, he is completely crazy so let's not give him the most beautiful spot in the city but one a bit far away, so that is why we ended up over here. So that is how it started. So now we designed this adaptive climate building, but there have been more criteria along the road. So the design was always an important criterion for us, what we see happening in the world is that young people are leaving the countryside to go to the city and not taking over the farming business of their parents because they do like to be a farmer, but they also like to be in the city, and that's the difficulty. So if we can design a farm that is really attractive, with urban farming and high-tech, we can attract talents back into this important industry. RuMoer: It seems like a crazy idea, to keep something like this afloat, people must be naturally curious to see how it works. Peter van Wingerden: It is immense. Last year, we had 40 groups per month over here from all over the world, we had every week an international journalist, and we had a media reach of 500 million people, so we are absolutely one of the media attractions of our city and maybe of our country.


Figure 1: Cows can walk over this ramp onto the floating platform

RuMoer: That sounds great. Could you tell us how did the people that are directly affected by the Floating Farm responded? Peter van Wingerden: To look at the audience in the first place, of course, everybody was hesitating to say we like it or we do not like it, because the knowledge of farming inside cities is in general zero actually. So we talked to people, and they asked: "Does it smell?" And then I said: "What do you mean with smell?" "Well, does it smell like a cow?" "I hope so", I said, "But do you think is it good or bad if the cow smells like a cow?" Then the people said: "Well, we don't know- we are only used to the smell of petrochemicals industry around us." So that was the essence of what is happening in cities, we lost the smell

of subsidy to realize this building. First of all, it was difficult to find where we should apply for subsidy: at the

RuMoer: How many employees do you have here?

agriculture station, at the water station or at the climate


of the countryside, the real world.

change station, because we are a bit of everything. The Peter van Wingerden: The farm is run by four people.

other point is that people thought it would never work.

One of the goals for number two, I will share that with

They thought every cent they give is thrown away.

you, is that we want to do it with less. One of the things

So we said, let us stop that! We had to finance it with

we will implement is data and remote control. I want to

private capital and a little loan from the bank. We

say "start" and "stop" right now and wherever I am, even

calculated what would be the smallest investment, the

in my bed. This industry is very conservative, so it's a

smallest size of the building possible to still earn enough

huge step to put automation, remote control and data

money to pay back the loan and the interest; this is how

analysis in there. That is why we are very reluctant to

we came to this scale.

share our idea. Last year, at least every two weeks we

The business model is that we only live from the sales of

had a group of Chinese people over here, they wanted to

our products. We have three inputs to the farm: energy,

know everything, with cameras like this [laughs, makes a

water and food for the animals, and there is the output

wide hand gesture] you know, every corner, every detail.

that is manure and dairy. We can sell dairy, and we can upgrade and sell manure, this is the only income we have. Last year we also had a lot of income by receiving people

RuMoer: So you have four employees, and I assume a lot

and doing presentations, but that is zero now [due to the

of volunteers?

corona situation]. We started with a business-to-business model as we sell

Peter van Wingerden: Yes, we also have a lot of

to baristas, to restaurants and to catering companies.

volunteers, and we have our holding, of course. Our

But as of March 15th, the famous day of the lockdown,

holding creates the ideas and the concepts for Floating

they had to close, so our revenue turned down 80%. So

Farm number two, three, four and five, this a completely

we changed from a B2B-concept to a B2C-concept.

different entity than the farm. The farm is the operational

The business is now focused on consumers, we sell

part, and the holding is the inspirational part.

about 80% of everything to consumers, and 20% goes to businesses.

RuMoer: Could you tell us about your business model? Are you dependent on sponsors, or do you sell enough

RuMoer: Do you sell products to local supermarkets?

products to be independent? Peter van Wingerden: Yes, we sell to one Spar, we Peter van Wingerden: We did not receive any cent

collaborate with Picnic (the distribution company) and to


75 | Urban Grow

some restaurants. There are more retailers coming now, a local cheese store and one cheese store in Schiedam, so we get more and more little stores, not the big ones. Big stores are completely centralized, and they have central purchasing departments. They are only interested in the lowest price and distribution all over the country; we only distribute in our city. RuMoer: What was the biggest technical challenge in building the floating farm? Peter van Wingerden: I think logistics.

Figure 3: Cows on the Floating Farm

Peter van Wingerden: Because it is on the water, and we RuMoer: How, why?

have a tide of two meters up and down every 24 hours. We are producing stuff on the farm that needs to go out, and we also have also stuff that goes in. Also, the animals need to go out and in. The animals are free to choose if they want to be in the stable or out of the stable. This routing from stuff going out to stuff going in, from dirt going out and cows coming in and out, that was pretty difficult, also because of the tide and the budget. We had a very tight budget, and because a project like this was not done before, we came across all kinds of things we had not thought about, so we had to skip things. For instance, we wanted to have solar cells on the roof, but we thought, this is not innovative, everybody knows that this could be done, so let's skip that. The other things from a technical perspective were pretty much the way we designed it, so there were no challenges on that part. RuMoer: Are there also functions you wanted to automize that were not possible in the end?

Figure 2: Calf in a barn on the shore


is the scale of this building. Everything you design

Peter van Wingerden: We rent the entire water space, so

within cities needs to be clean, sustainable; it needs to

the water is free for us now. And it's also nice to show

be attractive design and needs to be compact. But not

to people who come here that something like this can

many suppliers are able to comply with that because in

be done on the water. So now we're designing small

the past 40-50 years the leading theme was "economy

windmills on the water as well, so we wanted to design

of scale". Then you can have low prices, and then you

together with the school in Rotterdam over here (the

can be competitive to the rest. So if you ask suppliers,

maritime school).


Peter van Wingerden: One of the technical challenges

can you supply me a machine for the Floating Farm, then they show their brochure with these big machines, we

RuMoer: Do you have further cooperation with

need much smaller ones. Not many suppliers are already


capable of doing that, or they ask you to pay three times the price. But I'm not the government, I don't have any

Peter van Wingerden: Yes, for instance, we are in a very

subsidy, so it needs all to be in the business case.

interesting European project that is led by the University of Delft, it is called "Water Mining". We are researching

RuMoer: You don't have the solar panels on your roof but

on how to split up manure. A cow poops and pees, this

next to the building, does that not cost you more because

flows together and produces ammonia (which is what

you have to rent that land as well?

you smell). But if you split it within three hours, there is no smell and no ammonia. We split in dry matter and urine, and we are working on how to take water out of the urine. The goal is to have salts that can go back to the plants and water we can dump in the river. RuMoer: Do you have a concept for circularity? Peter van Wingerden: Our circularity is purely based on residual streams. We collect all kinds of waste streams from the city, and we measure the vitamins and proteins in these streams and the proteins, and that goes to the cows. They give back the dairy and the manure, and that goes back to the city, that is the circularity that we are applying right now.

Figure 4: Squeezed oranges from restaurants and caterers are used to fed the cows


75 | Urban Grow

RuMoer: Is the structure of the floating farm circular, or

so we needed to make some concessions.

can it be circular? RuMoer: Let's have a look in the future: Do you also have Peter van Wingerden: This one is not, but sure it can be.

plans for other farming models, or do you want to stay

We are now designing a second one next door. That one

with cows?

should be completely circular. We want to use all kind of doors which we can reuse from somewhere else. That

Peter van Wingerden: Yes, we want to showcase the full

takes time. It takes quality control. It takes all kind of

protein line over here, so we do dairy, we do eggs, and we

different construction methods. For the first farm, we did

do vegetables. Our next one will produce vegetables and

not have enough time, we did not have enough budget,

eggs, so we combine chicken and vegetable farming.

Figure 5: Floating Farm from the shore


different applications, in locations so like New York or

for the floating farm concept?


Peter van Wingerden: There are several. First of all, I

RuMoer: Mr. van Wingerden, thank you for the interview.


RuMoer: What do you want to achieve as a long term goal

hope that we can shorten the chain of food production and consumption, which is essential. We want to reduce the pollution of traffic, the dropdown of quality. Another point is to create more awareness in the world about farming. I think that designing is an essential part of creating awareness. People want to be part of something that is interesting, that looks good, and that works differently. To give an example, when we advertised a vacancy for a farmer, we had an enormous list of people interested, young people especially. People who work here they say proudly: "I'm a farmer on the floating farm!" and their family and friends say: "Oh you are on the floating farm, yeah I read about that! Can we visit that, can we see it?". And that's something completely different than when you're a farmer somewhere in the countryside. That is something we hope to add this also to the world, that farming is essential for our lives. Somebody needs to produce our food. It's not the banker;

Figure 6: Peter van Wingerden

it is the farmer who makes sure we can live every day. And another goal is to help countries that have floodings every day, look at Bangladesh, that is dramatic. We can help Bangladesh tomorrow; we can put this Floating Farm there tomorrow, we can provide them with the knowledge to be high-tech farmers. We can help countries that have no space like Singapore. In Singapore, there is no space to produce food, but they have a lot of water. So there are many stories we want to achieve in the future. We want to build buildings in several locations. We want to do different sizes, different products, and



75 | Urban Grow

Food production and building energy mitigation as a single surface


Facade-Farm: Dr Andy Jenkins, TU Delft, Climate Design and Sustainability

Buildings are a key part of everyday life and contribute significantly to the production of carbon, and carbon equivalent, emissions. Newly constructed buildings account for only one percent of EU building stock. Therefore, the renovation of existing buildings is of critical importance. Due to the known positive impacts brought about by the improved access to ecosystem services, the use of green facades to both improve building energy performance and increase the ecological base of cities has been considered in the past. Architectural facades have also been explored as the future locations for food production as a response to food insecurity. However, the idea of a facade that simultaneously reduces building energy use, improves the ecological base of cities, and produces food has been investigated to a lesser degree. Background and design In 2013, Dr Andy Jenkins along with Queen’s University Belfast led the design and construction of a large building integrated aquaponic system that occupied the top floor and roof space of an ex-industrial building in the UK. The focus of this endeavour was to understand the technical difficulties of integrating soilless food systems within existing buildings and to calculate the potential contribution of these systems to domestic food security. The building integrated aquaponic system functioned as both a farm and as an exhibition. The fish tanks, filtration system and deep-rooted crop bags, were on the top floor of the building, and there was a large polytunnel on the roof that was occupied by a nutrient film technique (NFT) system (see figure 1). During the development of the building-integrated aquaponic system it became clear that the ecology created between fish, bacteria, and crops within an aquaponic system, would naturally occur at any given scale; even within a facade. The vertical surfaces of the built environment that typically

experience increased glare and heat gains, would be the perfect locations for growing crops, which in turn could reduce both glare and heat gain. This potential symbiosis between facades and agriculture quickly became apparent, which led to the design of the facadefarm. The initial design for the facade-farm was based upon the idea that an entire aquaponic system could fit within a double-skinned facade; including the fish tanks, filtration system and growing channels. In order to maximise the productivity of the facade, the growing channels were doubled-up and positioned on a rotating conveyer belt system to ensure that all crops received the same share of sunlight. The crops would then be harvested through an opening glazed panel in the rear (see figure 2). Proof of concept Initial funding was sought to design and develop a proof of concept for the facade-farm, which was achieved 15

75 | Urban Grow Figure 1: Internal view of the elevated aquaponic system in the UK

Figure 2: Initial design of the facade-farm

shortly after its inception. The prototype could produce 15 crops/m2/harvest, including the space required for the fish tank and filtration unit. The completed facadefarm prototype was a success and proved that food production within a double skin facade was possible (see figure 3). Simulation studies The simulation phase of the research focussed on the reduction of peak HVAC cooling loads during the warmest day of the year, reduction in annual incident solar radiation and access to available daylight on an average day, in the United Kingdom. A base model was created in Ecotect, which comprised of a single thermal zone that was five metres wide, five metres deep, and three metres high with three solid cavity walls, one double-glazed wall, a flat insulated concrete roof and an insulated concrete floor. In total, four different models would be simulated to determine the effectiveness of the facade-farm. This would include the base model and the base model with a double-skinned facade (see figure4),


Figure 3: Facade-farm prototype

and the base model with a facade farm both with and without an integrated fish tank (see figure 5). The double-skinned facade was modelled to be three metres high and seventy centimetres deep. The exterior glazed panels were single-glazed, and the internal glazed panel remained double glazed. The growing trays were 75 mm high, 200 mm wide and five and a half metres long. The grow trays were modelled to run past the edges of the

Academic Figure 4: Base model (left) and double-skinned facade model (right)

Figure 5: Double-skin facade model with grow trays (left) and double-skin facade model with grow trays and fish tank (right)

base model to restrict solar radiation from entering

mm apart. The fish tank was modelled as being 900 mm

from the sides and skewing the results. The grow trays

high and would result in the loss of some growing trays

were positioned at 300 mm centres, both vertically and

(see figure 5).

horizontally to create the distinctive grow tray array seen in the original design. The lettuces within the facade


were also modelled as part of the facade assembly,

Due to the nature of the facade-farm – as a living, kinetic,

which were represented as small green cubes, 100 mm

building element – it was undesirable to calculate the

deep, 100 mm wide and 130 mm tall, positioned 200-

performance of the facade at a fixed period in time.


75 | Urban Grow Figure 6: In-line grow trays without crops (Tray 1), in-line grow tray with crops (Tray 1A), out-of-phase grow trays without crops (Tray 2), out-of-phase grow trays with crops (Tray 2A)

Typical double-skinned facade

Facade-Farm without fish tank

Facade-Farm with fish tank

HVAC cooling load

36 % reduction

46 % reduction

54 % reduction

Annual solar gain

27 % reduction

49 % reduction

58 % reduction

Daylight access

43 % reduction

65 % reduction

63 % reduction

Table 1: The average reductions in HVAC cooling load, annual solar gain, and natural daylight as a result of food production within a double-skinned facade, when compared to a typical double-skinned façade.

Therefore, four variables of the facade-farm were

regarding the effectiveness of the facade-farm in

determined. These variations included in-line growing

reducing building energy use. This was achieved by

channels without crops, in-line growing channels with

averaging the findings of the three environmental

crops, out-of-phase growing channels without crops,

simulations – i.e. HVAC cooling loads, annual solar

and out-of-phase growing channels with crops (see

radiation, and average daylight – for the double-skinned

figure 6).

facade, the facade-farm without a fish tank, and the facade-farm with a fish tank. In summary, the presence



of the facade-farm greatly reduces peak cooling loads,

Due to the number of variations and the number of

solar radiation capture, and access to natural light of

simulations that were conducted, it was important

adjacent spaces when compared to a typical double-

to synthesise the findings to generate conclusions

skinned facade. On average, the facade-farm without a

is impressive, it should be noted that that majority of the

reduces both direct annual solar capture, and access

energy savings associated with it are due primarily to the

to natural daylight by 22 percent when compared to a

growing channels and large fish tank within the facade

typical double-skinned facade. When water is added

rather than the crops themselves. On average, the

to the facade-farm in the form of a fish tank, the peak

presence of crops within the double-skin facade only

cooling load is reduced by 18 percent, direct annual solar

contributed approximately two percent to the overall

gains is reduced by 31 percent and access to natural light

reduction in HVAC cooling loads and two percent to the

is reduced by 20 percent, when compared to a typical

overall reduction in direct solar capture, when compared

double-skinned facade (see table 1).

to the same grow tray variations without crops. That


fish tank reduces peak cooling loads by 10 percent and

being said, the presence of the crops is still important as Conclusions

this generates the capital needed to pay for the additional

The conclusion of this study is that food production within

costs of the facade. In summary, producing food within a

a double skinned facade is both possible and can result

double-skinned facade can reduce building energy use,

in the reduction of building energy use, at least with

and can also lead to further benefits such as decreased

regards to spaces directly adjacent to the facadefarm.

food miles, capital generation for property owners, and

This, however, comes at the cost of a reduction in natural

improved interactions between urban inhabitants and

light penetrating, the building plan, which would need

biotic systems, which can lead to healthier, happier

to be remedied through the additional use of artificial

and more engaging cities that improve productivity and

lighting. Although the performance of the facade-farm

wellbeing as a result.

Dr Andy Jenkins is a postdoc researcher at TU Delft within the Chair of Climate Design and Sustainability. His research interests include urban agriculture, sustainable architecture, urban health and wellbeing, and the circular economy. He was the lead technical designer of the building-integrated aquaponic urban farm in the UK and his previous research has focused on the integration of urban agriculture and the co-creation of future zero-carbon communities. He is currently working on the Sky High Project at TU Delft, which aims to reduce the energy use of vertical farming whilst exploring the energetic and architectural integration of vertical farms within buildings and cities.

Dr Andy Jenkins


75 | Urban Grow 20

Figure 1. Picture of the faรงade of the PITLAB




Graduation Thesis by Shirish Ramachandran, TU Delft.

In the western world, most people spend 80 to 90% of their lives indoors. This could either be in places such as a school, an individual’s house or an office. (Bluyssen, 2013). Looking at this statistic, it can be said that it is essential to maintain the wellbeing of an individual regarding comfort levels in the indoor environment. Some factors which are taken into account while assessing the indoor environment of a building are thermal comfort, lighting quality and indoor air quality and also acoustic quality. It is important for a building with long term occupation such as offices to perform such that it achieves optimum indoor comfort with respect to the factors mentioned. However, this determines the energy consumption of the building, and hence it plays a role in defining the sustainability of the building. (Nicol & Humpfreys, 2002). Introduction

In order to get the best of both worlds, two sustainable

The growth of population and the amount of time spent

construction methods, namely upcycling (reuse of

indoors over the years have contributed to high energy

materials) and vertical farming (green facades) were

demands from buildings. Globally, buildings account

researched and combined to form a ‘Do It Yourself’

for 20% to 40% of the energy consumption, with 40%

double-skin façade, a façade made with reused sliding

energy consumption in Europe (Lombard, et al., 2007),

doors, which was aimed to be capable of developing

(Zhao & Magoulès, 2012). One of the prime contributors

‘Edible Green’. This refers to the placement of edible

to the energy consumption in buildings is the use of

vegetation in the façade of an office building.

HVAC systems, accounting for up to 50% of the energy consumption in buildings, followed by lighting and

As two sustainable methods were combined into one

appliances (Lombard, et al., 2007). It can be said, that

project, the investigation of the performance of this ‘Do

this is a result of the indoor comfort requirements of

It Yourself’ double skin façade arose as an objective.

occupants inside a building. Hence it should be noted,

Hence the research aimed to investigate the climatic

that although the comfort of the occupants is seen as a

performance of the façade for the growth of plants,

priority, the performance of the building with respect to

as well as its influence to the indoor environment of an

sustainability should also be taken into account.



75 | Urban Grow

Project Details

reused sliding doors, respectively.

The specific case used for this project was the PITLAB,

The double façade contains two sliding doors, parallel

which is one of the pavilions in Tuin van Bret, a garden

to each other with a distance of 420 mm. The outer and

located near the Amsterdam Sloterdijk station. The park

inner sliding doors are composed of double glazing

consists of multiple pavilions, home to different offices.

respectively. The inner and outer sliding doors of each

This building functions as an office for the architectural

of the façades can be opened and adjusted. The exterior

firm DOOR Architecten. The building is oriented in such

of each façade contains container doors which can be

a way, that the front façade is facing towards the south-

opened up to a perpendicular orientation to the sliding

east direction. The envelope of the building consists of


nine reused sea containers, stacked in a grid of three by

The upper two stacks of the containers which form the

three pattern, in which a double façade is installed out of

façade of the building were taken as 6 modules across

Figure 2. Representation of the PITLAB


Figure 3. Ventilation strategy applied for all the modules during summer and winter: Left to right- minimally ventilated (A&D), naturally ventilated module (B&E) and mechanically ventilated module (C&F)

Graduate Figure 4. Placement of plants across six different facade modules

two floors, capable of accommodating vegetation

strategy was adopted in the form of a drip irrigation

individually. These modules were assigned different

system, where the modules in the top floor received a

design strategies based on ventilation, shading system,

constant rate of irrigation, whereas the modules in the

watering system and the placement of plants. Based

bottom floor received a varied rate.

on literature research done on the growth of edible vegetation in different climatic conditions, five different

A measurement system was developed using a

types of pepper plants were placed on each module.







parameters were evaluated by the placement of Three types of ventilation strategies were adopted

measurement sensors in each of the modules. The

as parameters for the modules, namely minimally

measurement was done over a period of three weeks



where the temperature, relative humidity, illuminance,

ventilated. The configuration of plants was such that




CO2 and Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC)

all modules had a total of nine plants, with seven short

were measured. The obtained values were studied and

growing and two tall growing plants. The watering

analysed based on the expected behaviour from the 23

75 | Urban Grow

Figure 5. One of the shading strategies applied based on different climatic conditions with the help of container doors

Figure 6. Observed temperature and relative humidity in a minimally ventilated module in one week


Figure 7. Placement of temperature and relative humidity sensors in all modules

and can increase the relative humidity of air in the cavity

were evaluated by determining the yield produced by

by 38%. Moreover, the experiments with respect to

each of the modules, and also by a visual inspection of

mechanically ventilated modules show that the cavity

the plants.

preheats the air by up to 6°C during night time and

It was observed that the plants play an influential role

pre-cools the air by up to 10°C during high outdoor

in increasing the humidity in the cavity, especially in

temperatures (summer afternoons).


literature. The condition of the plants in the cavities

the cavities of the non-ventilated modules. This was evaluated by comparing the relative humidity and


absolute humidity of all the modules. It was found that

Based on the theoretical and real-time evaluation, it

the humidity in the minimally ventilated modules was

was concluded that the minimally ventilated modules

higher compared to the rest. Moreover, it was found

perform relatively better with respect to the condition of

that the shading in the façades highly influences the

the plants, whereas the mechanically ventilated modules

temperature in the cavity. The performed experiments

perform better with respect to the indoor environment

suggested that the use of plants in the double skin

in the office. However, the influence of the double

façade, along with an external shading strategy can

skin façade alone on the indoor environment of the

decrease the temperature in the cavity by up to 13°C

office could not be determined, as there were external

Figure 8. Yield obtained and health of each plant in the façade modules


75 | Urban Grow

influences on the climatic conditions inside the office building. Based on the results, a design strategy was successfully formulated and the performance of each module was investigated. The research answered the question with respect to maintenance of the double skin façade for the growth, and health of the vegetation. Moreover, the research helps to provide ideas on different design strategies that can be used, based on different sustainable design requirements. References: Bluyssen, P. M., 2013. Understanding the Indoor Environment, s.l.: Delft University of Technology. Lombard, L. P., Ortiz, J. & Pout, C., 2007. A review on buildings energy consumption information. Energy and Buildings, 40(3), pp. 394-398. Nicol, J. & Humpfreys, M., 2002. Adaptive thermal comfort and sustainable thermal standards for buildings. Energy and buildings, 34(6), pp. 563-572.

Figure 9. Comparison of all modules with respect to the comfort zone in the psychrometric chart

Zhao, H. X. & Magoulès, F., 2012. A review on the prediction of building energy consumption. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16(6), pp. 3586-3592

I am an MSc graduate in Building Engineering, with specialization in Building Technology and Physics from TU Delft. I have a keen interest in the area of facade design, building physics and acoustics. I graduated on August 2019 after spending two wonderful years in the university. I currently work as a junior consultant in the field of building acoustics at M+P Raadgevende ingenieurs B.V. Several academic civil engineering projects throughout the course of my bachelor's and master's program have helped me gain experience with respect to building technology and facade design, and also given me an insight on design of buildings with respect to their indoor environment. This has led me to an affinity towards projects in the construction industry Shirish Ramachandran


Beeld Š Koschuch Architects

Developing ambitions Do you want to work on leading projects in a professional organization? Together with our customers we develop the buildings of the future! We work on projects that matter. Think of the Boijmans van Beuningen Depot, where we calculated the optimal technical shape of the reflective facade. For House of Delft our integral team was able to realize a solid, preliminary design in three months’ time. Knowledge development What characterizes us is our curiosity, our eagerness to learn and our passion for technology. ABT invests in knowledge development and innovation. Building envelope engineering, BIM, concept development, computational design, refurbishment, parametric design and AR: we apply it all in our projects.

Building zero impact With all the engineering disciplines under one roof, ABT can offer - through our integrated design approach - an optimal mix of sustainability measures in the field of energy, water and materials. The result is a healthy building for the user. Are you looking for a suitable internship or graduation assignment? Let us know your ultimate challenge! We are happy to get to know you and are curious to see if you are the perfect fit for our team in Delft, Enschede or Velp. On you can find our current internship- and graduation topics and vacancies. We look forward to seeing your application.

75 | Urban Grow

Urban FEW nexus

Carbon assessment of urban communities by using FEWprint tool Ir. Nick ten Caat, with Martin Tenpierik, Nico Tillie, Andy van den Dobbelsteen, TU Delft

Urban farming has the potential to be a sustainable alternative to conventional farming. In a city, farming systems could operate as a nexus, extracting resources from the urban context to convert these into valuable food products. Symbiotic design with the built environment reduces the demand for resources, potentially leading to synergistic carbon mitigation impacts. For a holistic evaluation of the potential effect of urban farming efforts, food consumption should be admitted to the carbon inventory of urban dwellers. Here at the TU Delft we develop a platform for the assessment of this impact: the FEWprint. In this article we show how food related emissions vary between cities worldwide and how a diet change can mitigate the environmental footprint of a neighbourhood. In an increasingly urbanising world, the demand for

land. The urban landscape generally does not offer the

resources will in parallel concentrate in and around cities.

required space for extensive crop lands

The carbon emissions associated with the management

and pastures for grazing. We would therefore rely

of these resources for the most part does not take

on concentrated and energy intensive forms of food

place inside the city boundaries. Urban dwellers drive

production to meet our demands: greenhouses, plant

greenhouse gas emissions far away from their own

factories, vertical farming and façade farming are

doorstep. The ‘outsourcing’ of this problem applies

examples of this.

especially to the consumption of food: a resource tied to an exhaustive and globally operating system. Returning food production within the city boundaries would make these emissions territorial again and would let us regain control over the management of it. The farming of food in the (peri-)urban context, both crops and livestock, would diminish or bypass some food chain related emissions. Think about the now popularly known concept of food miles: emissions associated with the transportation of imported food from farms all over the world. Or the emissions as a result of land-use change: the practise of deforestation to make room for agricultural 28

With a bit of creativity, we can all imagine the city as this utopian agro-economic centre where every corner and surface produces food for the city. A status-quo analysis of urban farming in The Netherlands reveals another reality: examples of economically feasible farms that have a considerable agricultural output, i.e. producing staple crops and not food for a niche market, are scarce. TU Delft is a partner in the SUGI/M-Nex research consortium, an international collaborative effort between six partner universities that investigates the integration of food production in an urban context. Part of this strategy is the evaluation of the environmental impact of proposed designs through a FEW (Food, Energy & Water) nexus

that country or neighbourhood. In order to produce

The inventory of the FEWprint consists of emissions

maintaining a certain degree of comparability between

related to space heating, emissions coming from the

the cases, the scope of assessed food groups was settled

generation of grid electricity, emissions due to fuel

on a selection of 18 staple food groups that combined,

use, emissions related to the production, distribution

compose the dietary profile of an urban dweller.

a representative figure on the impact of food whilst


lens. For this we developed the Food, Energy & Water carbon emission accounting tool, or FEWprint.

and treatment of water, the impact of household waste processing and finally the emissions associated with food

Figure 1 shows the results of this analysis in kg of carbon


equivalent emissions per person per year. The cities of Belfast, Amsterdam and Tokyo show similar total

We employed the FEWprint tool to assess residential

emissions and inter-sectoral proportions. In Doha, the

neighbourhoods in five cities connected to the M-Nex

energy intensive desalination process to produce drinking

research project: Tokyo, Amsterdam, Doha, Belfast

water is evident in the FEWprint, as is the electricity

and Detroit. For each case study, per capita resource

demand for domestic cooling with air-conditioning

consumption data was collected and coupled with

units. In Detroit, both electricity and energy carriers are

environmental footprint factors that are specific to

used for space heating or cooling, mirrored in the large emissions in the energy sectors. Between the cities, the total per capita impact of food is roughly in the same order of magnitude and as such, the fraction of food is more affected by the total emissions in the other sectors. The impact of a diet change Since we now know total contribution and ratio of food related emissions and we know exactly on which daily food intake and corresponding environmental footprints this assessment is based, we can investigate how a change of diet would affect the carbon impact of the neighbourhood. A built-in sub-function of the FEWprint can be used to explore the effect on the cumulative carbon footprint during the transition from animal-sourced food to plant based alternatives. The idea of a community-wide diet change with the intention of mitigating the environmental pressure is probably the simplest to conceive, but of course extremely challenging to implement and maintain

Figure 1: FEWprints of the 5 case studies.


75 | Urban Grow

based alternatives, specifically vegetables, legumes & pulses, nuts & seeds and meat replacers. The second level is veganism, a more common diet in which all meat products are removed and equally substituted with the aforementioned plant-based alternatives. At first one would assume that the dietary transition would be most impactful in communities where food initially constitutes the largest fraction of the footprint, which is to a certain extent true and reflected by the curves in Figure 2. However, the combination of applying communityspecific food intake and country specific GWP of food groups, a direct correlation cannot be allocated and every case study shows its own unique transition curve, Figure 2. Figure 2: The relative impact of a food transition: from animal-sourced food to plant-based alternatives.

In terms of total avoided carbon emission at the level of full veganism, the highest impact is achieved in Detroit (-914

on a community level in a real life situation. We want to emphasise that this diet change assessment serves an informative purpose and does not reflect the goals and

Figure 3. In Detroit, the food sector only constitutes 10% of the total emissions and in Belfast this values reaches

ambitions of the M-Nex study.

up to 36%. This difference is mirrored in the final indicator:

Towards plant-based diets

reduction of only 8%, whereas in Belfast this culminates in

We are all familiar with the high environmental impact of meat and dairy consumption (Poore & Nemecek, 2018). Animal-sourced food groups could be replaced by less impactful alternatives. In this study we considered veganism as the final achievement level of a sustainable diet. Two intermediary stages towards this final level are also assessed. The first level is pesco-pollotarianism, better known as the removal of red meat products (beef, pork and mutton), of which two versions are calculated: one where red meat is equally replaced by poultry and fish and another where red meat is equally replaced by plant30

kg/cap/yr), closely followed by Belfast (-909 kg/cap/yr),

a community wide vegan diet in Detroit results in a carbon a total carbon reduction of about 25%. Informing the design process As stated before, without incorporating food to the carbon inventory, the impact of urban farming design proposals cannot be comprehensively evaluated. Locally produced food can substitute conventional imported food, which means that certain stations of the conventional food chain are nullified, subsequently diminishing the sectoral impact of food (Neufeld, 2020). However, simultaneously would the farming systems be connected to the existing

and allocate this combination to vacant (or vacated)

demand for FEW resources and raising consequential

urban or peri-urban space, Figure 4. The tool generates

emissions. The key question then is: How should we

instant feedback on such design moves by quantifying

design the system so that the avoided emissions outweigh

the agricultural yield, water requirements, organic waste

the added emissions?

output and energy demand and translates these new

The platform offers an urban farming design component

resource implications into a net-carbon impact. In the

(under development), where the user can choose from

urban context, space is limited and in order to produce

a selection of farming methods and the 18 food groups

a sufficient, varied and a healthy diet for the whole


city resources system in order to operate, increasing the

Figure 3: The absolute impact of a dietary transition: avoided CO2 emissions [kg/cap/year]

Figure 4: Schematic representation of the FEWprint platform.


75 | Urban Grow

community, energy intensive controlled environment

emissions, but also less land is required to produce an

farming methods are more effective.

adequate amount of food with a similar nutritional value.

In another article in this issue, Aarabhi Balasubramanian


demonstrates for a case study in Amsterdam how the

• Carbon evaluation through a FEW nexus lens is

demand for vegetables can be solved with an attainable

necessary to holistically assess the production of food in

amount of space. Protein-rich food groups on the other

the urban context.

hand, meat and dairy typically being the main sources for

• Symbiotic integration of food production with the

it, require substantial amounts of space to produce.

existing architecture and resource infrastructure has potential benefits for both the systems, leading to reduced

The food conversion ratio (FCR) of beef (kg of animal feed

environmental impacts in both sectors.

intake / kg edible weight) is high, meaning a lot of land

• A (semi-)transition towards plant-based protein

is required for the production of feed for cows. Pork is a

sources increases the possibility of achieving a nutritious

better alternative, also because it can be fed with organic

food yield within the city boundaries.

waste from the city, closing urban waste loops. Poultry has a lower FCR and thus requires even less indirect space.


Farmed fish can be bred hyper-concentrated, have a very

Neufeld, D. (2020). The Carbon Footprint of the Food Supply Chain. Retrieved November 27, 2020, from

low FCR and can be combined with crop farming, known as aquaponics farming. By now you can see where this is going: what about plant-based protein sources? A shift towards a plant-based diet does not only diminish carbon

Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360(6392), 987–992. science.aaq0216

ir. Nick ten Caat is a PhD candidate in the research chair of Climate Design and Sustainability at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of the Delft University of Technology. During his MSc thesis research, he focused on synergetic energy systems between rooftop greenhouses and the surrounding built environment. He continues research on this topic during his PhD, where he expanded with the subject of CO2 emission accounting of the urban dweller, focusing on the addition of food consumption to the carbon inventory. Nick is supervising MSc graduation students that want to explore innovative concepts of urban farming. ir. Nick ten Caat



Infrastructure Interiors Faรงades


75 | Urban Grow

The Potential of Urban Farming in future climate-proof neighbourhoods Graduation thesis by Ir. Aarabhi Balasubramanian, TU Delft

In a future of geopolitical turbulences and unpredictability of changes in climate, cities may need to adapt and tend towards self-sufficiency to be able to afford a stable and healthy lifestyle for its inhabitants. Governments and policies world over are now focusing on creating sustainable and resilient systems for the urban and rural dwellers alike. Decentralisation of systems and local utilization of natural resources such as Food, Energy and Water can aid populations in adapting to environmental, economic and political changes. The increasing population in urban boundaries coupled

bodies to determine the potential of introducing formal

with the growing demands of our lifestyles put natural

food producing systems within cities.

resource systems at the risk of disruption. These

One of the primary sustainability challenges of the

vulnerabilities need to be tackled with a multi-pronged

century is to feed the global projected population of 10

and systems design based approach. Further, future

billion in the face of environmental challenges and natural

climatic, social and economic vagaries being predicted

resource constraints. Beyond the environmental impact,

already, system resilience needs to be designed with

food systems should also meet the nutritional security

a preventative outlook more than a curative one, to

of the global population, and the social well-being of its

provide reliable supply chains for the urban populations.

stakeholders. Local, urban farming could be a potential

Built on these principles, our project introspects on the

solution to overcome the large-scale bottlenecks in

introduction of urban farms through the Food-Energy

the global food network. Decentralisation of resource

nexus. This nexus encompasses the interdependency

systems and shifting base from external and rural sources

of food and energy as primary urban resources, in a

to local urban production can improve the autonomy of

food producing and energy demanding neighbourhood.

neighbourhoods from external disruptions.

Food systems do not function in isolation, but in inter-


dependence with other systems such as energy, transport

The ability of cities to integrate farming systems on

and water. A change in one system would therefore imply

almost all surfaces of its built environment, is a relatively

a knock-on effect on the others. This project looks at a

recent phenomenon. In combination with modern,

holistic approach, addressing the effects on the existing

efficient farming techniques and climate-controlled

energy system, owing to the introduction of food systems

farms, it could significantly improve the local production

in urban spaces. Through this project, an assessment tool

potential, while also reducing the carbon emissions and

was created for urban designers, planners and official

land degradation impacts associated with conventional

to seasonal cycles of six months each. The crops were

the utilization of rooftop and ground surfaces.

inventoried for their yields per unit area and seasonal

To provide for the demands of the urban inhabitants, this

The assessment tool allows its users to understand the

master thesis project explored the energetic viability of introducing urban farms on a neighbourhood scale, and its ability to meet the dietary requirements of the neighbourhood, now and in the future. Dietary studies (figure 1) and climate data were used to support this research. Applying the thesis to the island neighbourhood of Kattenburg, Amsterdam, the population of the neighbourhood and future changes in its demographics

energy demands, to be applied in an assessment tool. food production potential and its corresponding energy demands through a series of input crop choices and resultant graphs that compare the production with food and energy demands of the site. The energy demands of the neighbourhood are further increased by the addition of these energy intensive greenhouse farms. To combat this, the thesis looked

was also taken into account in the study.

at utilizing the available spaces in the neighbourhood

The research was conducted for 16 locally produced and

renewable energy sources in the form of PV panels.

consumed vegetable crops, and their energy demands


farming techniques. This thesis however was limited to

not only for the farms, but also for the introduction of To this end, a solar study – seen in figure 2-


calculated throughout the year was used to assign them

panel yields were computed to understand the energy

Figure 1: Vegetable demands of the current Dutch diet

Figure 2: Average annual solar insolation in the case study site in kWh/m2 per sunlight hours


75 | Urban Grow Figure 3: A schematic representation of distribution of farms and PV systems in the neighbourhood. Energy demands and food yields indicated per unit area, for the 6 month summer cycle. T-range hours indicates the number of hours of the season when the crops require no additional energy for climate control. Energy yields from PV systems allotted to 20% of available surface areas totals to 4070 MWh and meets the demands of the neighbourhood and greenhouses.


producing potential of the case study site. In combination

surface area was required for urban farms and 20% for PV

with the farms, the optimal proportion of PV panels were

systems to meet the vegetable requirements and energy

estimated, to meet the demands of the region while also

demands of the neighbourhood. This distribution of

compensating the additional requirements of the farms.

spaces in the neighbourhood is indicated in the schematic

This thesis examined modern farming solutions on a

figure 3. However, this positive result was primarily owing

neighbourhood scale to release urban spaces of their

to the low population density of the region. In the future

dependencies on external resources. The results of the

scenario, where population is expected to multiply

thesis suggested that in the present-day context, this is

significantly, the neighbourhood struggled to meet the

possible with significant yields of vegetables produced

food and energy demands of all the inhabitants. This

in the case study site, and with surplus energy generation

could potentially be addressed by the introduction of

from the PV systems. For a combination of vegetables that

façade farms, floating farms and even plant factories into

meet the dietary requirements as indicated by a Dutch

the island’s boundaries. Further, the integration of the

survey, it was found that a mere 5% of the neighbourhood

solutions into the larger Food-Energy-Water nexus could

Food and shelter are two of the seven of our basic

the resources.

physiological needs, according to Maslow’s pyramid. The

At the focus of this nexus lies the symbiotic existence

integration of food systems into the built environment

of the basic natural resources -Food, Energy and Water

therefore provides its people with services that are

- essential to the urban context. The dependency of the

essential for a basic standard of life. A holistic approach

Food system on the Energy and Water systems is critical

to design solutions is now imperative for us to live well,

and a comprehensive approach allows for a seamless

while consuming within the limits of our planet. While

integration of urban farms into the landscape. This nexus

the agricultural revolution and the advent of the global

has been explored by PhD candidate Nick ten Caat and

trade systems transformed the way we interact with food,

expanded in his article in this publication of Rumoer.

we need to re-evaluate our current systems, reviving


help in a more holistic understanding of the interaction of

valuable practices of the past and integrating them with The intent of the thesis is to provide a structured

solutions of the future. This amalgamation of past and

methodology to assess the viability of urban farming

future design solutions could be the answer needed to


create a sustainable, safe and healthy world for us and






specifically, the tool provides a preliminary assessment

the future generations to come.

of the potential of neighbourhoods in the Netherlands to implement self sufficient food systems within their


boundaries. The replicability of this method can also aid

Balasubramanian,A, Caat,P.N. ten, Dobbelsteen,A.A.J.F. van den, Schipper,.H.R.

in creating policies and urban plans for scalable solutions


with a top-down approach.

MSc Civil Engineering & Geosciences – Building Physics and Technology ir. Aarabhi B is a recent masters graduate from the Building Physics and technology specialisation at the Faculty of Civil engineering of Delft University of Technology. Her thesis looks at the value in introducing urban farming systems to create decentralised solutions for resilient and adaptive neighbourhoods. She comes with past experience in the sustainable design space and wishes to take her experience and learnings from TU Delft into her endeavours. With her belief in simple and minimalistic design solutions and lifestyle choices, she hopes to contribute to creating sustainable built environments in the future. Ir. Aarabhi Balasubramanian


Circ ula rit y

75 | Urban Grow


: A Company Case day

ng In uildi B the n i


facade structures climate computation

Save the Date




Debut 2020 Shefalika Sukhen Padmanabha, TU Delft

Debut is an annual event conducted by praktijkvereniging






BouT the study association for the students of building

Student Affairs(Maimuna Sheshu). A big shout out to

technology. It is a platform for students to interact

Marcel Bilow who helped us with planning and formatting

with experts in the industry. The event is organized

the event.

for students to have a deeper understanding of the inner workings of a company.WIt is also a platform for

For the event, we wanted six companies from different

companies to showcase their projects.

disciplines in building technology. It was initially a challenge to get companies, but due to long-standing

Every year the debut event is conducted on a grand scale

affiliations with bout and with the help of our alumni we

in the orange hall in BK city. The planning for this year’s

were able to acquire six companies that are the front

debut started with the same fervor as last year with an

runners in their field.

enthusiastic committee. But, as the whole world came to a standstill due to Covid -19, we were forced to stop. We

The companies were tasked with providing cases for

postponed the event and prepared a whole new format

students. The cases were for students to understand the

to adapt to the changing environment. The challenge

inner workings of a company. This would help students

was to create an interactive platform in an online format.

to determine if they would like to work in a particular field

We simulated the physical meet and greet by having

or with a particular company. Students were allotted

different channels on Microsoft teams, where company

a company case based on the discipline they were


interested in.






were then allotted time slots to interact with different companies. To ensure the smooth flow of the event

This year we wanted to have a singular theme that tied all

the debut committee was divided into Chair (Shefalika

the cases together while addressing an important issue

Sukhen Padmanabha), Finance (Abhishek Holla),

in the building environment. We looked at circularity as

Media (Twinkle Nathani), Company Relations(Christina

it plays an important role by reducing the pressure on


75 | Urban Grow

the environment. Circularity creates a chain effect by re-using and re-cycling materials to boost social and economic prosperity. The Government of Netherlands also aims at developing a circular economy by 2050. The objective of the Government is to reduce the consumption of raw materials by 50%. This can be achieved by the way we evaluate our projects using newer technologies, working methodologies, and planning. All the six companies were enthusiastic about the theme and tailored their cases to it. Below is a brief description of the companies, the cases and some of the solutions: 1. ABT- is a multidisciplinary engineering firm that focuses on structures, civil engineering, construction engineering,





technology. Case: The ABT office is relocating in Delft. The case looked at the material that could be retrieved from

Figure 1: Student work done for the case presented by Scheldebouw

deconstructing the office and can be reused for making the new faculty extension. Students had to justify where they wish to re-locate, the façade, structure, energy used, strategies for unused materials etc. Solution: The students came up with innovative solutions that looked at climate, energy, and optimization of material through computer code. They also had a multi objective component that optimized the grid size, layout, construction time through assembly and transportation. 2. Arup- has prominent projects in the built environment and across the industry. They are a multidisciplinary firm. For the event, there were experts from the energy and climate department. Case: They provided students with details about the project Echo. They were provided with a detailed section Figure 2: Student work done for the case presented by Arup


BouT Figure 3: Student work done for the case presented by Arup

that had components of building physics, acoustics,

when stacked provide the social conditions to co-exist

lighting etc. They were asked to look at the circularity of

in harmony should be there. A model apartment with

the section and looking into all aspects from the function

dimensions were given to the students.

to details regarding climate.

Solutions: One group had an Aquaponic faรงade

Solution: The solutions looked at modularity in organizing

integrated with a water and heating system the other

different functions in the building and detailed elements

group had a bio faรงade which had mycelium ( mushroom)

such as acoustical barriers and ventilation plans.

integrated into the faรงade along with an increase in biodiversity, solar panels, and shading devices.

3. Inbo - Is a firm that is multi-disciplinary firm that designs future-proof living environments that balance

4. Omrt- is an engineering consultant and a software

technology with sustainable and liveable social spaces.

developer. They have a creative method of bringing

Case : To go beyond the sustainable and modular and

ideas to algorithms and a structured method of bringing

design a circular housing capsule. A capsule that creates

market value into services.

a circle in one resource and generates a resource in the

Case: OMRT is developing a design toolbox called

faรงade. The capsule must be a healthy place to live, and

Ostate. Ostate enables developers and architects to


75 | Urban Grow

automatically generate and refine building designs, startingfrom the urban scale, through floor plan layouts all the way down the construction materials. The aim is to imagine a design process that starts from a limited list of materials /building elements instead of a final building design, and create the design from the elements at hand. Solution: Students looked at a modular approach with feedback loops to re- supply the chain of materials used. They also looked at the stages of materials and optimized the volume of the building by looking at the materials available. 5. Royal Haskonning - A company that manages Acoustics, Structural Design, Building Services, Energy, Project management. They also develop parametric design approaches for optimal design solutions . Case: They provided students with an ongoing project where they had to design a roof over an existing monumental building with two courtyards. Students were asked to design a roof over it using parametric and structural analysis. Circularity needs to be looked at


Figure 4: Student work done for the case presented by Royal Haskoning

Oikonomopoulou: a researcher and lecturer knew for her experimental research on Structural Glass &


models for construction materials and products. Faidra

Transparency. James O Callaghan: is a structural and façade engineer with over 20 years of experience. He is known for his design of Apple stores around the globe. Sardar Asut: a researcher in design informatics specialized in computational design and fabrication. The three winners were Inbo 1, Abt 2, Omrt 2, and a special mention for Inbo 2. Figure 5: A picture captured during one of the interactions of the students with the participating companies in the event

The event was successful due to the large number of

from a product level.

students that participated with great enthusiasm and

Solution: Students looked at different design options

showcased their technical skills. The students were

for the roof through a parametric fluid design that

also able to talk to company representatives who were

used recycled cladding products. They also looked at

extremely helpful and provided details to students about

demountable wood structures and recycled glass.

graduation topics, internships, and job applications. Despite the challenges of Covid- 19, the first online Debut

6. Scheldebouw - started its operations in the curtain

event was a success due to the companies, participating

wall market and grew to become a premium brand in

students, and the committee that worked tirelessly.

façade. In addition to exterior facades, Scheldebouw also develops solutions for interiors fit-out. Case: The company provided details of existing curtain walls. They asked students to look at ways to improve circularity in a typical curtain wall system on a product level or service level. Solutions: Students looked at several life cycles of the product, adaptability and standardized design, modular design for ease of assembly & disassembly, etc. for the curtain wall system. The students were judged on the Circularity level, Innovation, Feasibility, and Presentation. The students were judged by a panel of experts which consisted of Charlotte Heesbeen: who is a researcher and an expert in sustainability assessment and circular business

Figure 6: A group picture of all the participants and the company representatives involved in the event


75 | Urban Grow 44

Figure 1. Picture of GrowX 's vertical farm

, vertical farming has been operationally

developed to compete with regular farms.


Here at

Roos Steenvoorden, GROWx

A global response to the Climate Crisis has been reached through the 2015- Paris Climate Agreement, whereby the United Nations have committed themselves to limit global temperature rise. In the slipstream of climate change, the world is facing an ecological crisis. Today's global economy focuses on the 'linear model', in which we consume a lot of natural resources. This also applies to the agricultural sector and the food industry. With a growing world population, this trend of increasing consumption is unsustainable. In addition, de-urbanization is causing cities to grow further, which causes further logistical challenges in the supply of food. There is no other option than to disrupt this trend and to transform the way we conceptualize food production. In 1999, Professor Dickson Despommier from the


Columbia University in New York founded the root of the

At GROWx we started in 2016 with our own vertical farm

concept of vertical farming to satisfy the growing demand

in the heart of Amsterdam. Like many other start-ups the

for food. Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops

business model was not viable at the start. The biggest

in vertically stacked plateaus, in an indoor growing system

challenges we faced were the high (capital) investments,

that is completely climate-controlled using LED lamps.

high operational costs, high energy consumption and new

This relatively new agricultural method enables efficient

routes to markets. These challenges are faced by many

cultivation, in terms of square meters, as production

vertical farm-initiatives around the world.

can be elevated vertically instead of horizontally. Many developers and local governments have since expressed

In 2018, the company came to a stop when the

interest in the concept of vertical farming.

founders were not capable to address these challenges

A common fallacy is that vertical farming is a total

successfully. At that time, Ard van de Kreeke, an

replacement of traditional farming or existing greenhouse

entrepreneur with ten years of experience in organic and

cultivation. Of course, vertical farming is a disrupting new

sustainable farming combined with successful selling in

sustainable system, but it is also a complementary way

fine dining restaurants, stepped in and made a fresh start

to cope with the ever-increasing demand. In addition, it

in 2019. A new business model was launched with a clear

relieves existing logistic flows as vertical farming ensures

vision: we focus on real farming. By applying state-of-

a much shorter food supply chain. Large amounts were

the-art technology and data capturing software we are

invested into start-ups by many parties around the world.

now optimizing the natural processes in a circular way.

But why, then, are there still so few commercial urban

This enables us to produce fresh, healthy and nutrient-

agriculture concepts with vertical farming?

rich vegetables. GROWx provides a ‘Farming as a Service’ 45

75 | Urban Grow

(FaaS) proposition, which means that we are able to


finance, build and operate a vertical farm in any city

New technologies are moving the food industry forward.

around the world. The plants which can be produced in

This is also the case within GROWx. We are proud to

our climate cells are microgreens, salads and (medicinal)

announce that we have developed the first vertical farm


in the world that is fully automated, AI-driven, almost completely circular and with a cost price that can compete

Launching Customer: Chef’s farm

with regular farms. Our whole concept is simplified and

GROWx has proven their capabilities by successful

efficient, with a primary focus on plant growth and market

producing and selling microgreens to the Dutch fine dining


restaurants with a positive operational result. This way we can also explore the needs of consumers, keep innovating

Growing system

with new knowledge and continue our experiments.

One of the biggest bottlenecks for most vertical farms is labor-intensity and associated costs. Our first focus was to reduce manual handling. Not only to reduce cost but also to ensure a constant quality of produce. The implementation of 100% robotization was successfully introduced in 2020. This not only makes a huge difference in labor costs and quality of the produce, but also keeps the cell extreme clean. Human interfaces are only needed for malfunctions and checks. Another additional advantage is that there is no need to keep aisles and room for personnel to move around. There are various cultivation systems used for vertical farming: hydroponics, soil-based, aquaponics and aeroponics. Like most vertical farms, GROWx uses the hydroponic system. This is a way of growing with water, but without the use of soil. The water contains the nutrients. Hydroponic consists of various forms, most of which still use quite a lot of water. At GROWx we have found a more efficient way. Our robot delivers the exact water requirements several times a day. As a result, no

Figure 2. Own production salad


more water is flushed through the planters, resulting in

Company Figure 3. Growing system

water evaporation, a lot of water treatment and therefore

cell we can grow more than 50 varieties of different

high costs. We are currently looking into how we can use

microleaves, so an automated individual treatment saves

recycled rainwater for this purpose. Using rainwater is a

a lot of time. By giving plants the exact amount of needed

way of reducing reliance on mains water. Also, it can save

water, no waste water is created. The result is less open

money and help reduce environmental impact. But of

water in the cell, less water evaporation, less cleaning

course, this is location bound and not applicable in every

and less effort to dehumidify the return air for reuse.


Each plant (gutters) continuously records a broad

Our robot picks up the entire process from start to finish

spectrum of sensor data, such as weight, intake of

- from seeds to harvest. As soon as the plant moves on

water and nutrients, exposure and air quality, but also a

to the next phase of the growing cycle, the robot can

photographic representation in visible and infrared light.

respond automatically. You can think of a different light

This data stream is centrally stored and analyzed with the

composition or a different water composition. In one

aim of developing optimal cultivation profiles.


75 | Urban Grow

Lighting technologies

lamps. Because of this, cooling is required to reduce the

Through our own 'custom light recipe', we can create a

resulting high temperature. This results in high energy

tailor-made plant: the length, the color, the taste, size and

consumption with vertical farming. Here at GROWx, we

nutritional content. Those are things we can optimize.

are reusing the heat we harvest from the cells. We spent

Using the latest Signify LED technology we use lights with

a lot of time and energy in analyzing and optimizing

an extremely low energy consumption. Not only does LED

all our in- and outgoing streams. We created a closed

produce less heat, but the advent of LED lights makes it

loop system, where 100% of our own waste is recycled

possible to build on multiple layers and to place crops

to produce energy, CO2, water and nutrients. We use

closer together.

anaerobic digester for all our waste, the roots and leaf residues together with our growing medium. This results

Closing the loop

in biogas that we use for heat pumps and CO2 that we use

Controlled Environment (indoor) farms often require

for the plants.

substantial amounts of power and the fact is not all


buildings are equipped with the type of electricity at

Research and development

the capacity these facilities require to operate. Energy

We believe that with our data driven technology, we can

consumption is needed for, amongst others: lighting,

achieve even more efficiency in the future. That’s why

growing equipment, robots and cooling. Especially

our goal is to set up a research and development center

lamps produce a lot of heat, even though they are LED

for improving the involved technologies and futuristic

Figure 4. Growing under LED lights

Figure 5. Plants in substrate


experimentation. Constant improvement is one of our core business values. We are learning every day from every plant we run around the world. For example, the continued improvement of the grow cycle, the light spectrum, waste management, re-using rainwater, nutritional values, the product quality and long shelf products. GROWx has linked its growers to research programs of the following knowledge institutes: Wageningen University & Research, AMS institute and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. We are always looking for more engineering expertise. Please contact us if you are interested in an internship: We are excited about the future! Figure 6. Growing experiment

About ten years ago, Ard decided he wanted to stop travelling around the world for work and so he bought a house with a piece of land around it. He decided to become a farmer. In his own greenhouse, he started building a small vertical farm. This became a big success. Restaurants in Zeeland wanted to buy his microgreens and salads. With the knowledge and experience he gained with this, he succeeded in taking over GROWx in 2019. Today, Ard and his employees are combining the extensive farming experience with the latest technology developments to provide fresh produce on demand with a consistent quality. For more information visit : Ard van de Kreeke


75 | Urban Grow

Figure 1. PET GROWN


a self-sustaining, mono-material and multi-functional green roof module



Graduation Thesis by Nikoleta Sidiropoulou, TU Delft.

Every year, the building industry uses 2/5th of the world's energy and material flow, and constitutes up to 30 % of the total generated waste. Green roof installations are part of this material usage. How about we build green roofs out of one recyclable material? Research Framework

rPET, are sensitive. This way, producing a functional green

The expansion of the built environment is and will be an

roof out of rPET becomes visible, and at the same time the

unavoidable phenomenon due to urbanization. A fact that

flora and fauna existence in urban areas is supported.

leads to a further increase of the already high material consumption and waste generation of the building

More specifically, the project replaces the multiple

industry. Such development raise environmental concerns

material layers in a green roof with one single material by

in modern society and therefore solutions are researched.

using additive manufacturing, while keeping the multiple

PET GROWN is part of the "living in a bottle" project from

functions of a green roof. It is important to mention that

Ir. P. de Ruiter, which is one of the investigated solutions.

paneling or mounting of the component in the building is

"Living in a bottle" aims to combine computational design

not taken into consideration in the design, since they may

and additive manufacturing to produce a mono-material

vary depending on the 3D printer. Based on the above,

tiny house out of recycled polyethylene terephthalate

the aim of the thesis was to investigate the feasibility of

(rPET). This material has a circular lifespan, and is widely

forming a self-sustaining, mono-material and multi-

used in food packing, housewares, power tools and many

functional green roof out of rPET.


The design of the project is developed by using parametric

PET GROWN focuses on the roof of the tiny house, which is a multi-material building component, due to its high technical requirements. Between the different types of roofs, a flat green roof is selected to be investigated, because of its superiority in sustainability aspects. Nowadays, it is widely proven that established vegetation on a roof reduces both heat flow and UV radiation reaching the roof, two parameters for which thermoplastics, like

tools, so that it can adjust into the various functional requirements and environmental conditions. Furthermore, literature research showed that the extensive green roof meets the most functional criteria of being self-sustaining and low energy demanding. Therefore, this type of green roof is selected to be investigated as a case study for this thesis. In the end, to better contextualize the research the environmental conditions of the Netherlands are taken into account. 51

75 | Urban Grow

Process The structure of a modern green roof is complicated due to the integration of multiple functions. A researchby-design approach was conducted to investigate the feasibility of the project. At first, the various functions of the green roof were identified. Then, they were combined into five geometries. For each geometry multiple design variants were developed and evaluated through Grasshopper scripts, simulations, prototyping and physical experiments. The most efficient variants of each geometry were combined and integrated into the final design. During the above described procedure both functional requirements as well as 3D printing limitations were taken into account in all steps.

Design Development In the first step the structure of a green roof was analyzed, by deconstructing it in smaller components and defining the relation between materials and functions. The analysis showed that all the materials are placed in horizontal layers on top of each other. In the most cases, each material layer represents one function, and the position of the functions from bottom to top is essential for the proper performance of the green roof. Moreover, the literature research showed that the layer of the growing medium is an essential layer for the establishment of the vegetation. It can be soil-based and non-soil based. The later one presented high energy demands due to maintenance and additional installations. Thus a soil-based one, called substrate, which is mixture


Figure 2. Exploded view


of organic and non-organic matter, is selected as the most efficient one. According to the above, the functional layers from bottom to top were as following: structural, thermal insulation, waterproofing, root barrier, water retention, filtering and draining, growing medium, erosion protection, vegetation. In some cases, the functions may overlap, or they can be found integrated in one material layer. In the next step, the prevailing direction of the elements in each material layer was defined, according to the functional requirements. The parameter of the prevailing direction is essential, since the project is designed to be produced by additive manufacturing. For example, the prevailing direction of the elements in the structural layer is on the vertical axis, since the applied forces are from top to bottom, and the prevailing direction of the elements in the root barrier is horizontal, since its use is to block the roots that are in on the horizontal axis. The functions were combined together in multiple shapes, called geometry. This action happens according to the analyzed parameters, their relative positions and the prevailing directions of their components. Furthermore, functions already proven from previous research that can be combined, are also grouped together in one geometry. In total five geometries are defined. The first one in the bottom was geometry A, and it integrates the structural and thermal layer. For this geometry, the gyroid shell structure has been proven to be the

most suitable

shape from previous research done by V. Piccioni in her master’s thesis. However, the shell went through scaling adjustments to ensure its 3D-printabilty, thermal

Figure 3. Section


75 | Urban Grow

functionality and partially structural functionality. On top of geometry A, geometry B is bridging and consists of the root barrier and waterproofing layer and the bottom part of the water retention layer. In this case, a horizontal surface of 2.4 mm thickness was found to meet all the design requirements, except the ones of the root-barrier, due to limited research duration. Then, geometry C is the other part of the water retention layer, and the one mainly responsible for the proper hydraulic performance of the green roof. For this geometry three cup-like designs were developed and evaluated in material usage, water capacity and contact area with water, to ensure minimum material usage and avoid any material destruction due to ice expansion. The most efficient one (WR3) was selected, prototyped, and its resistance against ice expansion was tested successfully with a physical experiment. The next one is geometry D, a filtering and draining layer, that is bridging on top of geometry C. For this function porous

and horizontal structures were developed, based on 3D-printability. Then, they were evaluated in permeability of water and non-permeability of substrate through scripts and a physical experiment. According to the results, the most suitable structure was a grid type one. Finally the last one is geometry E and is representing the erosion protection layer, which ensures the proper function of the substrate. This geometry consists of a 6 cm high vertical surface with integrated openings. In general, during the design of the above geometries and their combination and integration procedure two design requirements had the biggest influence in the overall design. The first one is the bridging demands during 3D-printing, which resulted in the addition of extra printing layers between the geometries, while the second one is the material continuity on the vertical axis to improve the functional performance.

Figure 4. Comparison geometry C variants, highlighted was chosen


Conclusions The aim of PET GROWN was to investigate the design and production process of a self-sustaining, monomaterial and multifunctional green roof system produced through additive manufacturing with rPET, an indefinitely recyclable material. The design was developed with a research-by-design approach, with promising results. In the context of this research, the relation between design and, functionality and additive manufacturing, can be noticed clearly. Furthermore, 3D printing with rPET unlocked the possibility of producing complex geometries, that are not possible with traditional manufacturing techniques. This fact benefited both the form-finding process and the fulfillment of the functional requirements.


Design The final design PET GROWN is a green roof module that consists of two natural-based elements, a substrate layer and a vegetation layer, and a 3D printed structure out of rPET. The total height of the structure is at least 80.6 cm high and it weighs at least 57.89 kg/m2, depending on the structural requirements. The design can be produced in one go by using eight different 3D printing settings. The final product meets Dutch regulation standards on thermal insulation and integrates all the hydraulic demands of a green roof. In figure 3 an overview of the design is presented as a section in which, one may notice the sectional differentiation between geometries, functional layers and printing settings.

Figure 5. Detailed section of selected Grid section showing the flow of water through the section

This project could be characterized as the primary stage of research on mono-material building components. Hence, PET GROWN addresses several opportunities that the application of large scale 3D printing has in the modern construction industry. Figure 6. Curvature analysis of the gyroid shell to achieve 3D Printability


75 | Urban Grow

Figure 7. Final Design, PET GROWN.

MSc Architecture, Urbanism and Building Science – Building Technology Originally from Greece, now based in London and working as Additive Manufacturing Engineer for a large scale 3D printing company. During her intial studies in Greece, Nikoleta participated in three exchange semesters in Vienna and Kathmandu and graduated with excellence. Then, she worked for the next three years as an architect both in Greece and Germany. Nikoleta recently graduated from TU Delft with honorable mention and specialized in computational design and digital fabrication. She is passionate about design optimization based on both functional and manufacturing requirements. Nikoleta Sidiropoulou



Are you looking for a new challenge? Join Arup today! The Amsterdam Office is looking for interns and experienced professionals in Acoustics and Building Physics. Check out our vacancies at, apply directly or send your motivation and resume to

Project: Elements, Amsterdam (2020), Koschuch Architects


75 | Urban Grow 58

Figure 1. Living Farming Tree

Indoor garden which uses Biomimicry to create a high-yield solution


Hexagro Felipe Hernandez, Hexagro Urban Farming (Interview by Agritecture)

Hexagro is a Milan-based startup leveraging vertical farming technologies to reconnect people to Nature, starting from what’s on their table. For this reason, Hexagro offers solutions that allow everyone to grow fresh produce at home: reducing the supply chain of fresh fruits and vegetables, and providing a unique urban farming experience to anyone. What is Hexagro, and how did it begin?

How has nature played a role in the creation of your growing system?

Hexagro Urban Farming is a software and hardware product-service platform to increase the accessibility of

Nature was the main source of inspiration for the

indoor farming technologies. This project started after it

development of our first product, the Living Farming Tree

was presented as a Product Design thesis in Costa Rica

(LFT). Using the Honeybee Hive’s hexagonal patterns

where it gained a special mention thanks to its Biomimicry

and the 3D Node System of Trees we developed a

approach. Using the Biomimicry method, Nature was

space-filling modular system that can be configured in

the main source of inspiration for creating a solution

“tree”, horizontal and vertical geometries using the same

that could offer a high-yield with efficient use of space

parts. The LFT has been designed using the principles

while adapting to different indoor environments. After

of biophilia by recalling natural elements with its design.

the project was selected as one of the finalists of the

Hexagro’s objective is to make any available indoor space

first edition of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

productive, thus we offer a stylish product that also

in 2016, I met my co-founders Arturo and Alessandro

displays beautiful living plants growing on-site overtime

and in 2017 we established Hexagro as a Social-Benefit

and creating an emotional connection with their owner or

company in Milan. As part of Hexagro’s social mission,


our know-how and automation technologies are being licensed to a social project in Colombia called Siembra

A lack of nature is making us sick. Urban populations

Vertical that aims to provide low-cost and high-yield

spend 90% of their time indoors in environments where

aeroponic solutions for traditional farmers trying to

bad air quality and lack of greenery are compromising

overcome climate change, soil degradation and the

their health, thus leading to productivity loss at work

consequences of large-scale urbanization.

and considerable economic implications for companies.


75 | Urban Grow

We strive to reconnect people to nature with an indoor

boring, ultimately engaging employees and visitors and

farming experience by guiding users through an IoT

increasing productivity thanks to the comforting presence

platform to perform simple plant-maintenance tasks to

of nature.

achieve successful harvests. Who is the Living Farming Tree for, and what can it This gamified cultivation process drives employees to


input data about how they feel in the workplace, and based on employee responses the LFT will recommend

We are offering our first product, the Living Farming

to harvest a particular mix of medicinal plants that can

Tree, as a service to companies in Europe that are

improve Sick Building Syndrome symptoms (headache,

looking for ways to maximize their productivity by

eye irritation, nausea, etc.). The LFT becomes a center

improving employee wellness at the workplace. The LFT

of gravity in which people gather and share time close

is capable of monitoring environmental data--such as air

to plants inside places that before were inert and

temperature, humidity, light levels, CO2 and air flow--

Figure 2. Representation of different available kits


Interview Figure 3. Representation of indoor space with living farming tree kits

which are relevant for plant growth but also for a wellness

crop type by regulating light and irrigation independently

assessment of an indoor space. This information is also

from module-to-module.

provided to the HR manager of our customers with a report including anonymous wellness-related data from

Hexagro’s Living Farming Tree can be multiple products

users (employees).

at once:

The system’s High-Pressure Aeroponics and LED Lighting technology is able to grow 6 plants per module and is

A natural element able to provide automated production

1.5x times faster than conventional hydroponics thanks

of medicinal herbs, while saving costs of water, nutrients,

to increased root oxygenation, all with 40% less water

light usage and maintenance fees.

and 30% fewer fertilizers. Given the on-site positioning of the LFT, hyper-fresh Medicinal and Aromatic plants

A plug & play technology increasing workers’ wellness

become 3 times more productive as they can be pruned

and productivity, thus driving higher revenue for corporate

and regrown again over 2-3 week intervals. Each farming

clients. Workers increased engagement by 71% and

module (kits of 4, 7 or 13 modules) can grow a different

productivity by 15% based on our customer pilots results.


75 | Urban Grow

Figure 4. Close-up of the Living Farming Tree

Figure 5. Growth of plant roots within a Living Farming Tree module


Figure 6. Close-up of the Living Farming Tree in an office environment

was funding: we have developed the Living Farming Tree

feel indoors and how the quality of the environment

relying on personal investments, grants, donations, and

affects them. Companies will be equipped with valuable

awards. In September 2018 we received our first funding

information on workers’ feelings and engagement, thus

from Angel Investors in Switzerland due to our initial

remarkably improving their business activities.

commercial activities there.

What has been one of your greatest challenges to

Developing new hardware and software by ourselves has

overcome as a company?

not been easy, nor has trying to do things differently and


A data gathering platform to understand how workers

taking a path that no other company has taken before. We It’s hard to mention only one! I arrived in Italy 5 years ago

face all kinds of challenges every day, from economic to

to pursue a Master’s degree in Design & Engineering and

technical, but thanks to our persistence and our mission

Management & Innovation, and as a foreign student in a

to reconnect people to Nature through indoor farming we

totally new country it was very challenging to adapt to the

have been able to move forward to create an exponential

culture and grow professionally over the years.

social impact in only a few years.

At the beginning of Hexagro, the biggest challenge

Our vision is a future in which anybody, anywhere can

was to bring the right people on-board and I spent a

access healthy food. Agriculture has changed the path of

long time trying to find the key elements to build an

humanity before, and we believe it can do so again!

engaged, talented and diverse team. Another challenge

Felipe is originally from Colombia and from a young age, he moved to Costa Rica with his family. His first professional steps were within the family company where he got passionate about design and entrepreneurship working with his parents, both industrial designers. After graduating from Product Design he presented Hexagro as his bachelor thesis and was awarded a scholarship to study in the top technical university in Italy, Politecnico di Milano, a master’s degree in Design & Engineering and a double title course on Management & Innovation at Alta Scuola Politecnica. These experiences gave Felipe the basis to found Hexagro 3 years after its initial presentation, in 2017. Felipe is currently based in Milan and has now more than 10 years of experience developing industrial products while working in companies in the aerospace, automotive, and consumer product sectors, he also develops freelance projects for companies in various design fields.

Felipe Hernandez - Hexagro Founder

For more information visit :


75 | Urban Grow


Are you driven to design the environment of tomorrow? Ben jij gemotiveerd om de omgeving van morgen te ontwerpen? Let’s meet. 64

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